Illustration: Christine Wang.
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How Ottawa is using eco-innovation to combat climate change

The Free Store: Tackling overconsumption, one outfit at a time

Nothing in life is free, but your next outfit could be! The Free Store aims to bring our campus one step closer to being free of waste by giving items a second life. Operating under the Office of Campus Sustainability, the Free Store is one of the many innovative methods the University of Ottawa has explored to tackle overconsumption.

“The goal of the Free Store is to try to get people to consume less,” says Brigitte Morin, Waste Diversion Coordinator for the Office of Campus Sustainability. She says the store aims to make people think about their consumption habits, and whether or not they need to go out and buy new items.

Used goods can be dropped off at the donation box behind the Free Store, located at 647 King Edward Avenue. These donations are then collected, sorted, washed and dried. The Free Store also accepts far more than clothing.

“It’s everything: kitchenware, household goods, Halloween costumes, winter clothes. Anything that you would give away that you wouldn’t need anymore, we have.”

Then, the items are brought into the store and ‘sold’ for free. It’s a great place to pick up things on a budget, with a wide variety of items. “Just over the last six months we must have received over seven or eight metric tons of material,” says Morin. “I would highly encourage people to come and check out what we have. We get new stuff everyday.”

—Hanna Methot, Fulcrum Contributor.

Nu Grocery Ottawa: Making zero-waste easier than ever

Nu operates on the premise that as climate-conscious consumers, we must start saying no to unnecessary or single-use packaging, and only purchasing the amount we need. With this in mind, NU set out to offer an alternative to this wasteful mass consumption. According to their website, the products offered in store are packaging free, and local and organic whenever possible. But the waste reduction effort in this unique little store doesn’t end with product procurement.

Consumers are encouraged to avoid waste by shopping using their containers from home, or making use of their free compostable paper bags for dry products. They also lend jars for wet products, which require a small deposit reimbursed upon the jar’s return.

They note that the average Canadian produces more than 700 kg of waste per year, one of the highest rates in comparison to other developed countries. Further, their website says that our waste contribution to landfills is responsible for 20 per cent of Canada’s methane emissions. We have a long way to go, but this innovative grocery store is a great place to start.

 —Savannah Awde, Features Editor.

Terra20: Greening your home never looked so good

This store with two locations in Ottawa has a wide array of eco-friendly products. The company began in 2006 when co-founder Steve Kaminski realized how difficult it was to find sustainable home products when he was building a house from scratch.

They are extremely transparent in the way their products are sourced, which includes a “Browse by Ethic” option on their website. This makes it much easier to find products free of animal testing, made in Canada, free of chemicals, and are waste reducing.

For those used to shopping at Loblaws and Metro on discount days, don’t worry, the prices for the average household products aren’t much of a markup from bigger brands.

For the makeup addicts out there, Terra20 has an array of planet-friendly products that are much cheaper than your average Sephora haul. Terra20 has one store in Westboro, while the other is close to Ikea. If that’s too much of a trek, they have a user-friendly website that makes it a little too easy to find everything you need.

—Nadia Drissi El-Bouzaidi, Associate Features Editor.